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250        HISTORY OF WESTERN EDUCATION

the analogy from nature may be helpful; but the growth of the
soul is on a higher plane than the growth of a bird (to which
Comenius most frequently likens it), and consequently the com-
parison is bound to break down at the most important point.
So, again, there is truth in the idea of a fundamental similarity
in all forms of learning, but with the sameness there are also vital
differences in the character of sciences, arts and languages which
make necessary corresponding differences in the relative methods
of instruction. In so far as Comenius is successful in making
natural processes models for the art of education, and in allowing
for the differences which have to be made in applying a common
method to various subjects, it is by reason of what he reads into
his theory from bis experience as a teacher. His actual method,
in fact, owes quite as much to his practical insight as to his
theory. It is the happy product of practice and philosophy, in
which philosophy has illumined and guided practice and practice
has modified and corrected philosophy.

The main points of his educational scheme may be illustrated
by a brief account of the four stages of education, as he defines
them in the Great Didactic.* His starting-point is the division
of that part of life devoted to education into the four periods of
infancy, childhood, boyhood, and youth, each lasting six years.
Corresponding with these, he advocates the establishment of four
institutions: a mother school in every h/>me, a vernacular school
in every village, a gymnasium in every city, a university in every
kingdom or province. In a preliminary sketch he states the aim
of these in psychological terms. In the mother school, he says,
should be cultivated the external senses ; in the vernacular school,
the internal senses, the imagination and the memory; in the
gymnasium, the understanding and the judgment; in the uni-
versity, the harmonizing will. But as soon as he comes to details
it becomes evident that he has in view something very different
from a mere training of faculties, such as this statement might
seem to imply, if taken by itself.

The task of the mother school is far more than a training of the
senses: it is to implant in the child " the rudiments of all the
knowledge that we wish to give a human being for the needs of
life." Even at his mother's knee the child makes a beginning
with all the sciences and arts. Seeing, hearing, tasting, and
* Chapters xxvii-aonci.